BUFFON, Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de / Louis Jean Marie DAUBENTON/ Bernard de LACEPEDE. Œuvres complètes de Buffon, mises en ordre par M. le Comte de Lacépède. Seconde édition. Paris, chez Rapet, 1819-1822.
25 volumes 8vo [215 x 130 mm], full red straight-grained morocco, gilt fillet on covers, blind-stamped border and central rose, spine ribbed and nicely decorated with gilt borders, inner border, edges gilt, few leaves slightly brown. Contemporary binding signed by Thouvenin.
De luxe edition of Buffon’s works printed on vellum paper with the engravings contemporary hand-coloured. It is illustrated with the author’s portrait by Dévéria, 6 engravings in black, 4 folding maps, 96 engravings dedicated to quadrupeds and 126 engravings dedicated to birds, each of them finely contemporary hand-coloured.
Here is the foreward : « Pour donner à cette seconde édition toute la correction désirable, nous avons suivi le texte de l’édition, intitulé Vue générale des Progrès de plusieurs branches des Sciences naturelles depuis le milieu du originale, in-4, de l’Imprimerie Royale… On trouvera dans le dernier volume le discours de M. Le Comte de Lacépède dernier siècle ».
« L’Histoire naturelle » is an encyclopedic work, conceived and elaborated by the natural scientist Georges Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon (1707-1788) who wrote it with the help of a team of scholars and writers. It is only when he was appointed intendant of the King’s Garden (current Jardin des Plantes) and lived surrounded by the collections from the Royal Cabinet of Natural History (currently known as the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle) that he conceived the layout of this grandiose work.
Since the publication of its first volumes « L’Histoire naturelle » was greeted with resounding success. Buffon was admired by all Europe and enjoyed a celebrity equal to Voltaire’s and Rousseau’s. He was called “le Pline et l’Aristote de la France” and without taking any step he became a member of the Académie Française; his statue was erected during his lifetime. « L’Histoire naturelle » fairly appeared as a masterpiece of modern science and of the awakening of minds, like the Encyclopedia which is contemporary of it. It brought into fashion the genuine science of observation in opposition to unskilled experiences which were, at this time, in vogue within society people. It immediately gave rise to an intense development of natural history.
The edition was printed on ordinary paper with black figures, while some de luxe copies, like this one, were printed on vellum paper with contemporary hand-coloured figures.
A beautiful copy of which the 25 volumes were contemporary bound in bright red morocco with gilt and blind-stamped decorations by Thouvenin, one of the greatest bookbinders from the Restauration. The first and last volumes bear the master’s signature at the tail of the spines.